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The former location of Friendly’s Restaurant and later Uptown Charlie’s restaurant at 1216 E. Dixie Drive — in the Walmart shopping center — is coming back as a Pizza Inn. 

What Pizza Inn? Here’s the answer

EDITOR’S NOTE: Recently, Randolph Hub shared a business magazine’s report that Pizza Inn planned to debut its new “Restaurant of the Future” prototype in Asheboro. Many local readers may have picked up that there are no Pizza Inns in Asheboro. Here’s that mystery solved:

ASHEBORO – A long closed restaurant location in Asheboro will soon have a new life with a familiar name.


Restauranteur and Asheboro resident Dion Firooznia plans to bring Pizza Inn back to the city.  


In an interview, the franchise operator said he hopes to have his establishment open by January 2023 in the former Uptown Charlie location in Center Pointe Plaza close to Walmart at 1216 E. Dixie Drive.  


Firooznia confirmed this will be his second Pizza Inn restaurant. He opened the first in Elizabethton, Tenn. It is part of an agreement he has with the chain’s owner, Rave Restaurant Group.  


“I have plans to open four to five more locations in central North Carolina,” he said.


Firooznia said he chose the location because of its high visibility and high traffic count. He knows the spot, originally built as a Friendly’s Restaurant in 2000, has had several iterations. But he believes his strong operational skills coupled with an exciting new concept for Pizza Inn is a winning combination that will draw customers. 


Firooznia has lived in Asheboro since 2008 but he is originally from Hamburg, Germany.  He moved to the U.S. at age 16. According to a press release from Pizza Inn, Firooznia started his career as an hourly employee at Carl’s Jr. Restaurants as a teenager. He worked through the ranks at CKE Restaurants and moved to Hardee’s Food System before opening his own restaurant concept in Germany. 


Later, Firooznia was instrumental in leading the turnaround for Bojangles’ Restaurants. He was responsible for 110 compa-ny-owned stores and opened 79 restaurants during his 15-year tenure. He was an operating partner for 14 Qdoba Mexican Eats Restaurants in North Carolina.


Before becoming a Pizza Inn franchisee himself, he was a ranchise business consultant for Rave Restaurant Group. He will be operating under the name, D2 Restaurant Group.


The new Pizza Inn concept restaurant will feature house-made dough that is made from scratch every morning. The restaurant will offer a pizza buffet, salad bar, pasta bar and dessert buffet as well as delivery and carryout. 


“Once I learned about the concept and value of the Pizza Inn brand, I wanted to be part of what’s happening here,” Firooznia said in the official Rave Group press release. 


“I have always wanted to be a franchisee, and I am confident in my ability to find and train good leaders to manage restaurants. The leadership is taking this company in the right direction, and I’m excited about the product innovation and great quality.”